January 23, 2020
Showered by thoughts, I moved ahead when asked to present my faith journey as a new member of Session.
It starts with growing up in the 1940s in Butler, PA - the home of five Presbyterian churches. I remember an active congregation and the profound sermons of Rev. Bob French, who in his retirement was a supply minister as part of our own Derry Church when his daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Bob Greer, moved to Hershey.
But it was my mother who carefully directed my involvement in our church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and life in general. She played such an important part of my journey throughout her life.
At age 11, my father passed away at 45 years old. My mother, a widow at 36, had to become the sole provider for my sister Sandy and myself. We had no insurance, no car, no income. She took on numerous jobs (nurse, secretary, clerk) to provide for our care, but always with such a strong faith in God’s will that was deeply implanted in me. To help ease the pain of losing my father, she would introduce me to animated films which dealt with separation and faith -- such films as Bambi, Snow White and my favorite: Johnny Appleseed.
In 1948 my mother enrolled me in Milton Hershey School. I came to the school at her urging but soon became the most homesick 11-year-old you could imagine. I pulled, cried, and begged to be taken back home. I felt abandoned and I used every relative that would hear me to urge her to just let me come home. She resisted all efforts and I remember her tearfully stating “I think at 36 I know more than you at 11. This is very hard for me, but some day you will thank me for bringing you to Hershey.”
Her influence and her faith were with me all my life and have guided me throughout. Some 38 years later (in 1987) when awarded the Alumnus of the Year at Milton Hershey School, with my mother, now 76, in attendance, I tearfully reflected in my acceptance speech on her strength and her faith expressed as a young woman. Afterwards, she took me aside and said, “You see: it was God’s will all along that you came here. I knew in my heart the Lord had a reason for you coming to Hershey. Remember what your good luck charm, Johnny Appleseed, said.”
And I have never forgotten.
And so I thank the Lord - For giving me, the things I need - the sun- the rain and the appleseed….
The Lord is Good To Me.
My journey continues with the strength of my mother’s guidance and the Lord’s blessing.